Danny Padilla Gallery

Built Report Danny Padilla
Danny Padilla had a small role in Pumping Iron

Dennis “Danny” Padilla (born April 3, 1951) is not nicknamed “The Giant Killer” because he murders tall people but rather because his 5’2″ stature is no impediment to defeating much taller opponents on the bodybuilding stage.

At seven years old Padilla had been watching his older brother and cousin lift weights together to strengthen up for their wrestling competitions and was inspired to start pumping iron himself. Padilla trained with his brother’s rusty hand-me-down York barbell weight set. The year was around 1958 and York Barbell was in it’s heyday. The company was owned by Bob Hoffman(named “Father of World Weightlifting” by the International Weightlifting Federation) who bought the Milo Barbell Company(founded by Alan Calvert in 1902 who also began publishing “Strength” magazine in 1914) and founded York Barbell in York, Pennsylvania. Hoffman was Joe Weider’s main competition. He also sold nutritional supplements and had two bodybuilding magazines called Strength and Health and Muscular Development. Strength and Health is no longer published and Muscular Development was sold in 1986 to Twinlab and in 2001 Twinlab sold Muscular Development to Steve Blechman who then resigned from Twinlab. With a brand of barbells steeped in history, young Padilla began training seven day a week setting his sights on becoming Mr. America.

According to Wikipedia, Padilla at 18, while still in high school, won the Mr. Rochester(Rochester is Padilla’s home town on southern shore of Lake Ontario in the western portion of New York state) contest. However, on the same Wiki page under “contest history” they fail to list the Mr. Rochester contest. MuscleMemory, which seemingly lists the name, year, and placings of every bodybuilding contest under the sun, does not list Padilla’s 1970 win. However, there are many articles that do but all seem to be rehashing the same article. He apparently competed in other contests not currently listed on Wikipedia or MuscleMemory including the Mr. Buffalo and Mr. Syracuse contests in New York. Then Padilla progressed to AAU’s 1972 Junior Mr.America(8th place), AAU’s 1973 Mr. America and Junior Mr. America(both 15th place), AAU’s 1974 Mr. America(18th place), AAU’s 1974 Junior Mr. America(did not place), and AAU’s 1974 Mr. World(did not place). The point is that Padilla was getting 18th place or not even placing in some of those AAU contests. That’s horrible! What was the problem? According to Padilla regarding one of his AAU contests, “I lost to a guy who didn’t even shave his legs!”. After the show the judges thought they were doing Padilla a solid by informing him that, although he had a good physique, being 5’2″ is way too short to compete. The writing was on the wall. Padilla decided to switch bodybuilding organizations from the AAU to the IFBB.

Padilla’s first IFBB contest was the 1975 IFBB Mr. USA held at the old Madison Square Garden in New York City. There he met top west coast bodybuilders attending the show including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Robby Robinson and many others. Padilla, who one year earlier didn’t even place at the AAU Junior Mr. America, won his height class, much to his surprise. What a victory! But wait…he also won the overall contest! Padilla was the 1975 IFBB Mr. USA. So, what was going on with the terrible AAU placings? Unless you see photos taken at the AAU contests you’ll have to speculate and the obvious speculation is that the AAU may have been giving Padilla very low placings solely based on his height. That’s right, heightism! The IFBB obviously had no problem with height given that they ended up giving 5’2″ Franco Columbu the Mr. Olympia on two occasions.

Wait a second! In the last paragraph did we say Padilla won the IFBB 1975 Mr. USA? Yes, we did and that was the year Padilla got a small part in a BIG cult classic movie, Pumping Iron. So, when you see the scene in Pumping Iron where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Padilla are watching “Franco the bat” pose keep in mind that this is Padilla only one year after his zero placing AAU status now hanging out with Schwarzenegger in South Africa at the biggest bodybuilding contest in the world and being featured in a very influential and quintessential bodybuilding movie.

There is much more to Padilla’s role in Pumping Iron and how he missed out on being featured on the same level as Ferrigno, Katz, or Columbu, which we will discuss in a future article. In the meantime, refresh your memory on Padilla’s limited role in Pumping Iron here.

Danny Padilla Contest History

1972
Junior Mr America – AAU, 8th

1973
Mr America – AAU, 15th
Junior Mr America – AAU, 15th

1974
Mr America – AAU, 18th
Junior Mr America – AAU, Did not place
Mr World – AAU, Short, Did not place

1975
Mr USA – IFBB, Short, 1st
Mr USA – IFBB, Overall Winner

1976
Mr America – IFBB, Short, 1st
Universe – IFBB, Lightweight, 2nd

1977
Mr America – IFBB, Overall Winner
Mr America – IFBB, Lightweight, 1st
Universe – IFBB, Lightweight, 1st

1978
1978 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, Lightweight, 3rd
1978 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, Overall, 6th
Professional World Cup – IFBB, 2nd
USA vs the World – IFBB, Lightweight, 1st

1979
Best in the World – IFBB, Professional, 5th
Florida Pro Invitational – IFBB, 3rd
Grand Prix Pennsylvania – IFBB, 5th
Night of Champions – IFBB, 2nd
1979 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, Lightweight, 5th

1980
Grand Prix Miami – IFBB, 3rd
1980 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 10th

1981
Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 5th

1982
Night of Champions – IFBB, 5th
1982 Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 12th

1983
Night of Champions – IFBB, 9th

1984
World Pro Championships – IFBB, 7th

1985
Mr. Olympia – IFBB, 16th

1986
World Pro Championships – IFBB, 13th

1990
Grand Prix England – IFBB, 5th
Grand Prix Finland – IFBB, 4th
Grand Prix France – IFBB, 5th
Grand Prix Germany – IFBB, 7th
Grand Prix Holland – IFBB, 7th
Grand Prix Italy – IFBB, 4th
Niagara Falls Pro Invitational – IFBB, 2nd
Night of Champions – IFBB, 3rd

1991
WBF Grand Prix – WBF, 10th

1994
Olympia – Masters – IFBB, 7th

2000
Olympia – Masters – IFBB, 10th

2009
IFBB Hall Of Fame


About Yegor Khzokhlachev 529 Articles
Gorilla at Large

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